KUALA LUMPUR: Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said studies have been conducted from “all angles” to decriminalise street demonstrations which are now regulated under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
He was responding to concerns that amendments to the existing Act may lead to violent street demonstrations, similar to that which has taken place in Hong Kong in recent days. The demonstrations are over a controversial extradition bill allowing suspects from the territory to be sent to China for trial.
The Peaceful Assembly (Amendment) Bill was tabled for its first reading by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Muhyiddin said two committees had been formed to look into amendments involving provisions of the Peaceful Assembly Act.
“We have taken into account many things and these (amendments) were not done just by the ministry. There are two committees that were formed to look into all the amendments.
“There were lots of consultations with many bodies, including the Bar Council, Lawyers for Liberty, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and National Human Rights Society (Hakam).
“We had also roped in many people (for their views) before we proceeded with any decision. This shows that the government wants to make sure (the people enjoy) what is provided for in the Constitution, which is freedom of association and expression,” he said at a press conference at Parliament lobby here today.
Despite amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Bill, Muhyiddin nevertheless said that street protests or peaceful demonstrations were still subject to other legal provisions.
“If a street protest is held and it's a peaceful assembly, that is what it should be in the spirit of the law.
“But what happens when it turns out to be rowdy or rough, then other laws have to be considered, such as the Penal Code or other legal provisions to ensure peace is maintained.
“So we will depend on the people and organisers. We are giving them the freedom and I think Malaysians should laud this move,” he said.